Wash. firefighters help rescue 'lucky dog' from chilly river

Whatcom County fire crews extended a ladder and used a pole to hook the dog's harness to pull him out of the water and up to the shore


David Rasbach
The Bellingham Herald

Bellingham, Wash. — After spending approximately 30 minutes in the Nooksack River in the middle of January, he was a lucky dog, indeed.

The Whatcom Humane Society Animal Control Team, Ferndale Police Department and Whatcom County Fire District 7 combined to rescue of a dog that slipped into the river near VanderYacht Park Thursday.

Firefighters found that the dog had made it to shore but was at the bottom of a small cliff from an embankment. (Photo/Whatcom Humane Society)
Firefighters found that the dog had made it to shore but was at the bottom of a small cliff from an embankment. (Photo/Whatcom Humane Society)

“It was one of those incidents you walk away with a smile on your face,” District 7 Chief Larry Hoffman told The Bellingham Herald. “We’re not typically involved in animal rescues, but it seemed like there was something we could do, and we were able to help.”

District 7 got involved, Hoffman said, after the Humane Society and police were called by a family that had their 70- to 80-pound dog swept into the river.

Firefighters went over to see if they could assist, Hoffman said, and found that the dog had made it to shore but was at the bottom of a small cliff from an embankment.

Firefighters noted that the dog was near a tree at the river’s surface. Hoffman said they were able to base a ladder on that tree and secure it with ropes.

“It was one of those things where a couple of things worked in the dog’s favor,” Hoffman said. “He swam in there, and we wouldn’t have been able to go down if that tree weren’t there.”

Crews used a pole to hook the harness the dog was wearing, pulled him out of the water and brought him up through the blackberry bushes along the shore.

“The dog was bouncing around and ready to go when we got him back up,” Hoffman said.

The dog’s owners rushed him to the vet to be checked out, according to a Facebook post by the Humane Society.

“The dog was bouncing around and ready to go when we got him back up,” Hoffman said.
“The dog was bouncing around and ready to go when we got him back up,” Hoffman said.

“Kudos and two paws up to the WHS Animal Control Team, Ferndale Police ... and Whatcom County Fire Department 7 for their teamwork and efforts earlier today at VanderYacht Park in Ferndale,” the post read.

Hoffman said the incident should serve as a reminder to all dog owners, children and adults about the dangers of being around water this time of year.

“It’s not very conducive to surviving — I was shocked we were able to get him out of the river and he was able to walk to car after being in there for 30 minutes,” Hoffman said.

Earlier Thursday, the Bellingham Fire Department posted a Facebook reminder that, “Iced over bodies of water are pretty to look at but too thin to walk on. Stay safe, stay off!”

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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